True Names and Other Dangers


Vernor Vinge


Science fiction

Recommended by Eliezer Yudkowsky (see below).

Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit

Yudkowsky's recommendationEdit

Books that changed my lifeEdit

"Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It's a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity - a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied - and the world will pass beyond our understanding."
-- Vernor Vinge, True Names and Other Dangers, p. 47.

One book, picked up on a whim in a public library. Sixty-five words. Five seconds. My feeling at that moment is hard to describe; not wild enthusiasm, just a vast calm feeling of "Yep. He's right. Well, now I know how I'll be spending the rest of my life."

I've been a Singularitarian ever since.

Five years later, I've never looked back.

Books of future shockEdit

(Referring to this, A Fire Upon the Deep, and Marooned in Realtime)

Three books, in three completely different Universes, that present in three ways the Vingean Singularity. Will the rise of greater-than-human intelligence be like this? No. Of course not. It'll be completely different. We can't see beyond that horizon... but Vinge takes us right up to it, and makes us see the wall stretching ahead. Short of experiencing our actual Singularity, the Vinge novels come as close to drawing a picture of What Lies Beyond, as we will ever see...

A Fire Upon the Deep is probably the best of these; it comes right out and shows you the Transcendents, awesome, moving on a galactic scale. And oh, yes, it won a Hugo.

Links and referencesEdit

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